Smartphones are changing the way we work, so we take a look at a few handy Android apps to have while at the office.
The workplace is typically a place for serious business, and being addicted to your phone while you're at work is a serious threat to productivity.
However, due to technological advancements of mobile devices, being caught with a smartphone in the hand at work is not necessarily a bad thing.
While it is true that it isn't very professional to be using the phone for personal matters or leisure in the midst of a busy workday, there are many ways that a smartphone can enhance productivity at the workplace.
Just a few weeks back, a colleague of mine asked me if I could recommend any apps that I find useful for the workplace. As I've shared with him, here are a few non-mainstream Android apps which can be useful in the course of your business.
If I had to single out one feature in smartphones that I'm really glad to have, it would be the built-in calculator functionality.
As someone who grew up studying accounts, crunching numbers is a huge part of my daily life and having a calculator around has proven to be very useful most of the time.
Whether it is used for the splitting of a lunch bill or calculating my budget, I have my smartphone's reliable calculator app to be thankful for. I am so comfortable with my calculator app that I no longer carry a separate calculator when I am at work.
I have used many different mobile devices over the years and all of them have pretty standard built-in calculator apps. All default calculators that I've used on Android devices have a simple basic interface when the device is held upright in portrait mode, and will reveal scientific calculator functionality when tilted to landscape mode.
I didn't think there was anything more that I could want from my Android calculator, as what was present was enough to serve my basic needs.
However, that sort of thinking changed when I found out about Calcu by Hoot Apps.
What sets Calcu apart from the default calculator is how customisable it is. Users are given the freedom to add advanced operators, science or custom constants to the calculator's keypad, and also remove buttons or features that aren't likely to be used.
The app also gives users the option to choose their preferred trigonometric unit, and enables other parameters such as a full keyboard layout, thousand separator and rounding of decimals.
Another interesting feature that Calcu has is its support for a couple of gesture controls. Swiping from up to down on the results field brings out the history, while swiping from down to up reveals scientific functions. To add on to the customisation abilities, gestures can be assigned for features that users want to use repeatedly.
On top of all that, Calcu displays calculation results in real time. This means that you do not have to click on the equation button for the results to appear. This can be quite confusing at first, but can be very useful once you have gotten used to it as it can save lots of valuable time.
Unlike the usual boring interface on built-in calculators, this calculator looks aesthetically pleasing. What's even better is that the interface is customisable, with numerous different themes to choose from. There are 12 different themes to suit the taste of different users.
Another type of app that has proven to be very useful for me at work are mobile document scanning apps, such as the CamScanner app by IntSig Information Co., Ltd.
An app of this nature is particularly useful for those who have to deal with loads of documentation on the go.
Instead of just capturing a picture of the document with your device's default camera app, the advantage of using an app such as CamScanner to do the job is that the app will employ its own image cropping and enhancing algorithm, which will in turn lead to clearer and sharper document images.
The app is handy in situations when you want to digitise all kinds of paper documents, such as receipts, notes, invoices, business cards, and the likes of it.
The app will almost always accurately crop the document captured and then auto enhances it so that text and graphics appear sharp and clear, just as if it was really scanned with an actual scanner. The scanned documents can then be shared in either PDF or JPEG format.
The app has built-in support for third part cloud storage services such as Google Drive, Evernote and Dropbox. Alternatively, the app's services can be synced across various platforms, from your smartphone, tablet and even computer.
For those who are willing to pay for premium features, CamScanner offers optical character recognition (OCR), which recognises texts in document images and extracts them from images for searching, editing or sharing.
One thing I'm quite particular about is keeping track of my schedule and tasks at work. When faced with one meeting after another, there is a high risk of losing track of what to do next if no proper planning is made.
Thanks to the calendar app, which should be readily available on every smartphone, we can have our whole schedule saved with reminders for each of our appointments. This has been a lifesaver for many of us who have countless tasks and meetings to attend to day in and day out.
Most calendars provide adequate functionality, but I've recently discovered an app that brings the practicality of the calendar app one step further. Introducing an app that boldly proclaims that it's all about accessibility and style, the Calendar Status app by Sagi Lowenhardt.
Unlike the hundreds of calendar apps that can be found on the Play Store, Calendar Status is one calendar app that actually sets itself apart from the rest of the pack and is really useful in practical situations.
The novelty that the app offers is having your calendar entries appear when you pull down your notification bar.
One great benefit that I get from having this app installed is that I can still easily access my next calendar event even when I'm in the middle of something else on my smartphone, such as being in the middle of a call. This definitely beats having to search for the calendar app or widget on another home screen.
The app also offers a great deal of customisation. Users have the freedom to set things such as the notification background colour, time and date format, displaying weekday or date, and number of days left to the next appointment.
The calendar layout is also highly customisable, allowing users to edit practically anything and everything about the presentation of the calendar events, thus making it very personalised for the user.
These are but a couple of the apps that lend themselves readily to the working world. What work-related apps do you use?
(Donovan is a full-time auditor and big-time gadget lover who discovered the wonders of the Android world back in October 2010. He finds great pleasure in discovering new ways to boost productivity on his Android devices.)